tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN August 29, 2014 6:30am-7:01am EDT
of use the small world of twitter to sort of get people into the book? can you get them to expand their horizons by luring them in by a slide show? >> i mean, yeah. i think, definitely. i think that's also a way to reach the younger generation. i mean, i'm a millennial, a 20-something, and i know a lot of my friends and the people i talk to online like to get that kind of information through twitter. and i just my train of thought. but -- >> actually, if you can stand it, i have something to say, maybe it'll help you pick up the train, because i know what that's like to lose the train. [laughter] it's not being a millennial, one of the things i read recently, i happened to go to my local coffeeshop, and someone had left united rap soty magazine. and there was a piece in it about the end of brand storytelling. basically what he was saying is you can't tell the story of coke
anymore. you have to let other people tell their stories about coke, okay? so is he was talking in, you know, in these terms, in advertising terms about how it's no longer don't tell us how green giant grew from a little sprout to a giant, you have to let people tell you about their experiences with green bean cat role. but in -- cat role. he said it's not beginning, middle and end anymore. people go into worlds online, and they want to live in those worlds, and they want to experience them. i remember this, this was a long time ago, playing mist, you know? thinking i don't want to win, i just want to hang out in this world for a while. and it's the same thing with all of these online gaming experiences and worlds and places you can go into. i think the idea of what a story is, is actually cracking and changing. and that could be for good or
for bad, but it does have a lot of effect on attention span and what we decide to read and consume, and, you know, how we find out about stories. so it's kind of -- i'm leaving that kind of amorphous, but i thought it was really something to pay attention to. >> no, i think it's an excellent point. susan, now you as a novelist also who has a new book coming out who is now no longer hiding it there -- [laughter] how engaged in the social media world are you? do you try to do everything? do you find something that you're most comfortable with? what are you sort of feeling like these days promoting yourself and your own book? >> yeah. that's not one of my strengths. i'm just really not that comfortable on social media. i'm trying to be a little more aggressive about it. i'm finally -- i think two books ago the publicist set up for me a facebook page and a twitter account, and i'm only now just trying to learn how to use the twitter account and the facebook
page. the one for the book i actually took down. so i really am a publicist's worst nightmare. [laughter] but i'm going to do a much better job of it with this book. but if i could just go back to what we were just talking about with short attention spans and declining readership, you know, i know politics & prose has been a really privileged position right now as a result, probably, of being in washington, d.c. and a very literate, affluent, book-buying community. but there are still people out there who are reading long form, narrative nonfiction, fiction. we have an amazing turnout for events for the wonkiest, most boring sounding books that i sometimes -- [laughter] can't believe we've actually booked an event for. [laughter] you know, just an obscure topic, a small university press and a hundred people will turn out. so there are still readers out there. it's not all doom and gloom.
>> sure. no, i, i hope so, yeah. taryn, tell us about from inside the publishing house perspective. what is the talk? what is the feeling about this as far as, i mean, are you -- i know a number of publishers, both existing publishers and new publishers, are actually trying to cater to that, producing shorter books. some just as e-books. what is the discussion that you're sort of hearing inside the house about, you know, this sort of war that's going on? war's a little strong. >> oh, about short versus long books? i don't -- i haven't been hearing that at houghton anyway. we're sort of really committed to the books that the editors want to buy and a nice selection of fiction and nonfiction and just things that are just passionate about. you know, it has to go through, everybody -- it has to really be approved, and people have to love it. but i think that we're still publishing the stuff that we want to publish. we're not, like, cowing to that kind of pressure. >> that's good. it's good to hear encouraging
stuff like that. taryn, i was also curious, i mean, when you're talking to authors, sort of prepping them, you know, i'm thinking most of the first-time authors, i mean, what are you telling them as far as social media and tough? the kind of thing that you've got to be involved to some degree, but it's also kind of a world they can be a little more involved in. they can't publish, they shouldn't call today show. >> please don't call today show. [laughter] >> more active as far as twitter feed, i mean, are you encouraging them to do as much as possible? are you sort of, are you feeling personally that you like a vehicle such as twitter or facebook or whatever? what's sort of your advice and your feelings on that? >> i mean, i think why a couple years ago it was so different, and publishing houses were setting up these things for authors. it has to be author-driven, it has to be genuine, authentic, and that's why people want to read an author's facebook, twitter feed.
they want to know why the author is changing cat food. they want to know, you know, what's going on with the author's family. they want to know this we mind-the-sanes -- behind-the-scenes stuff. i think it really has to be dynamic in that kind of way. i wouldn't -- i certainly encourage an author to be doing as much as they want to or as much as they are doing, but i'm not going to say, hey, you have a book now, and you only have 40 facebook friends and that's all you do so you've got to ramp up and do everything. because it's not going to be them. if they're really not doing anything, i might suggest they try one, really focus on that. if not going to be them, they shouldn't do it because it'll disappoint people if there's only one post. but it's a disservice to them and their book to not be connecting in a way that so many other authors are going to be doing. >> i think that's interesting which is why i always tell authors to make the twitter account or the facebook account under their own name, not under the name of the book, because it really does have to be you.
it has to be the author talking. people are interested in the author's personality and life, as you said, and not in sort of, you know, an artificial, like, bits of quotes from the book. there are a few twitter feeds i can think of that work as, you know, quotes and chunks, things like, you know, someone who tweets dorothy parker quotes, that sort of thing. but for the most part, it really has to be genuine and from the author. >> i think that makes a lot of sense. i'm, you know, by far not a social media or online guru, but every expert i talk to and listen to, i mean, it's all about a conversation. taryn was saying earlier, you talk about your kid. i mean, i think if you pound the book down people's throats, they know that you're sort of -- oh, they turn it off. if they hear this person's shelling their book again as opposed to you want to read my book because it's part of life, it's part of the conversation. >> i think that's kind of hard, gene, though because not every author is a great personality,
you know? some authors are just vibrant and witty and funny, and others are not, you know? they've put everything into their book, or maybe their book is about something completely different. so, you know, as taryn was saying, you can't force it. you can't force any author to do the social media stuff. but i think as an author a person has to be open to at least trying something that all, we need all the help we can get. [laughter] >> and i degree with that, and i think -- i agree with that, and i think as an than you have to know your audience. right now it's a little up in the air who teenagers and people in college would follow because -- >> instagram. >> they're not on twitter as much, and they're not as interested in facebook. so, i mean, if your audience is on a certain platform, it might be better to pay more attention to that platform and reach the proper people that you want to reach. >> it is true. i would consider fairly cutting
edge just by the nature of what it is, operator in this field. i mean, are there things you guys have tried that have worked well? you see a lot of things online dealing with an author now, and she's done a good job of having some different places do book giveaways. i know good reads does some giveaways. are there things you've tried that you've found have really worked? i'd actually like to know the other end of it. what are some of things to avoid? >> um, it's difficult. it's very hit or miss. we have a small audience, and we're trying to grow it. facebook ads worked really, really well, actually, and we got a lot of followers that way. especially on facebook it's harder to find stuff. they just, you know, have hashtags now which i don't think people really use because they didn't before, so you don't really search for things on facebook. you usually find it through friend sharing. the more people who are on it sharing your content, the more people who will see it. it's a domino effect. so i think the ads worked well. we did do giveaways where people
could sign up for our newsletter as well as social media. we contacted an author, and he actually retweeted a tweet that we had about the giveaway, and he has, like, millions of followers. like it's crazy how often he tweets and how many followers he has. and that was great. like, that's one instance of an author helping a small outlet like us and also, you know, giving away a copy of his book, maybe giving him more followers and just seeing him being involved was great. >> who's got a good story about something that was ineffective? come on. [laughter] you don't have to name any names. >> okay. >> come on, bethanne. [laughter] >> well, you know, one of the things that i do think is ineffective is when you do something and people don't understand what it's all about, what the purpose is. and by found that with friday reads when i was running it as a marketing business. and people did not understand.
they thought that they were being taken advantage of, that, you know, they were tweeting out of the goodness of their hearts and that-then, you know, being -- that this was then being mined and sent to publishers, and you didn't tell me. you know, i got some bad press for that. well, guess what? now there's a company called book vibe that just does that automatically. they collect everyone's tweets and facebook posts and doesn't matter whether you've told them anything or not, they're out there, and they're in silicon valley, and they do it a lot percent than i did. and so -- a lot better than i did. so it's really interesting, the shift in people thinking, well, i don't want to do this ask have someone use it to make money to everyone going online and thinking, oh, well, someone's using it to make money which is -- so that's another shift that's gone on in the past two or three years, i think. people now just assume that when they go online, their day is being mined. -- their data is being mined. so there you go. that was something that i didn't -- it's working for someone else now. >> paved the way for someone
else. good job. i want to get to the audience to some questions. i've got a little mini survey i want to do with you guys. so the last question before i sort of get to the audience, i'm just curious, you know, we're talking about connecting authors and readers, so i'm assuming everyone out here is a reader, we'll find out in a minute. i'm just wondering if you guys have any tips how readers can empower themselves. it can be simple, but what sort of tips would you say empowering readers to find the next book or author that they want to read, love and enjoy? >> well, i can give you the old school answer which is hand-selling books at the bookstore. we do have customers who come in who so trust the opinions of certain of our book item sellers that they ask -- booksellers that they ask for them by name and will just stack up whatever books they recommend. so i think there really is still power in the old-fashioned way of selling books. >> i think it's actually a
brilliant point. we don't call it hand selling, but i think everyone on panel does it. >> absolutely. >> whether taryn's hand selling a book to a producer at the today show, whether katie's hand selling it to every person on the twitter feed, it really is about hand selling because that's how you get to the buzz. someone mentioned earlier, kwr0r78 who it was now, but sometimes the free stuff is the best stuff to sell your book. people say no advertising is advertising. but i think hand selling is probably, i think, one of the key takeawayings i would say. you've got to get out there, and people have got to know about the book. whoever the evangelist is, publicist, social media versus -- >> well, and it really does begin with the publicist, because the way that the books get into the store, that they get into our rents program is when we meet with the publyists and they're hand -- publicists and they're hand selling the books to us and we get excited about them. that's where it really all begins, i think. >> yeah. i would say definitely, you
know, find something that gives you that experience that susan talked about. if you are not near an independent bookstore, you could get to know one online. but get to know a store that knows your taste. and maybe that means following a particular publication or a book blogger who really appreciates, you know, the kinds of books that you love and reach out. that's the beauty of social media and everything online, too, is you want, you know, you love cozy mysteries, you follow a blogger who writes really well about them, you can e-mail that blogger and say i need some more recommendations, and she might either give you a list or send you on to another blogger, you know, etc., etc. i am putting stuff up on washingtonian site all the time, and when i put up my top ten book of each month, i say, you know, e-mail us or put a comment in there's something you don't see or that you'd like to see or that you'd hike to add, you know? so -- like to add. there are lots of ways to make
your voice heard as a reader right now. >> that's great. >> i would agree not being afraid to use social media. you can follow certain authors, and you'll know when they have their next books coming out. a lot of niche publications that would write about, like you said, mystery normals, romance novels or any kind of specific thing. you could read the independent online, so that's always a good way. and i'm a journalist, i'm a newspaper person, so i always say, you know, support "the washington post" and the washingtonian and "the new york times" and read their book sections and their book news. >> absolutely. >> that's comment. so i'm going to put you on the spot out here now, so the one, i love the book industry, bun of the things -- but one of the things i don't like about it is we do very little market research. by a show of hands, how many people out in the audience buy ten books or more a year? >> whoo hoo! [applause] >> easily i'd say 60-75% of the
people. how many buy, you know, more than five? if you bought more than ten -- [laughter] okay. so, good, we've obviously got a very literate crowd out here. i put them on the spot, now i'm going to put you on the spot. by a show of hands, you have to pick one of the four choices. what is the main reason you buy a book? is it because word of mouth/personal recommendation is one, old school reviews/interview, online/social media or the fourth choice is other. so by a show of hands, you can only pick one. do you buy a book, are you most likely to buy a book because of word of mouth? interesting. a small number, i would say, of people. reviews and interviews? >> oh,? oh, really? >> at least half. >> online/social media? >> we still have jobs.
[laughter] >> something else i haven't mentioned. >> [inaudible] >> wandering the library. >> okay. it's nice for us to know. you know, you sit there in your home, in your office, in your cubicle, wherever you are, and you think you know what's going on out there, so it's sort of nice to know, a, people are buying books and, b, how you're learning about the books. we'd love to take some questions if the people in the audience have a question. please come up to the microphone if you're going to ask a question. yes, sir, fire away. >> could we talk about amazon reviews for a moment? >> you may. >> i pay a lot of attention to them. i've written a couple hundred myself. you know, they can be very positive, they can be very negative, very useful. i mean, they can be from brilliant to idiotic. i get a lot of value out of them. would one of you like to comment or all of you about how they play into your scheme or whether you love 'em or hate 'em? >> sure. and i'll even expand it a little
bit with. he's asking about amazon reviews and thousand they a-- how they affect buying. every product is now being reviewed online. how is it affecting your lives and what do you think about them as a consumer? >> i think if they're honest and they're bubbling up organically and then it is useful for a reader because if you get a cumulative mass and there's certain opinions expressed, it's useful. but i think a lot of times the downside of it is as you've said, you get a lot of crazy, ranting people out there. you get people who go on amazon and give a no stars because the book took too long to arrive,? you get a lot of -- it's not very well filtered. and then at the other end of it if you have people who are very good at sort of promoting their own books, they can also, you know, gather enough force.
so i think at some level they're useful, but it's, i think you really need to know what you're looking at when you're using that as a gauge of whether or not this is the book that you'd be interested in. >> well, and the problem with this for books -- and i think this is, my husband is a big online review fan. he loves yelp and wants to use it for everything now. and i keep telling him, and this is really important for books, is that there is a difference between someone recommending something and someone reviewing something. and this is one of my bug bears as a book reviewer. a proper review will tell you about something fully. it isn't necessarily saying just i loved it or i hated it. it's actually telling you something about the book that's meaningful, and there's a takeaway in it. but amazon, it calls them all reviews. i wish they would call them amazon recommendations. that would be so much more accurate because that's really -- there are not, i'm
sure, sir, that your, you know, are really well written, and there are people who write, who take the time to write reviews on amazon, but those are few and far between. >> yeah. i agree with everything you just said. [laughter] >> so i guess the general feeling is, chime in, take it with a grain of salt. like everything. >> yeah. >> you know, i sort of feel the if you want to buy a book, you don't necessarily not buy it because you read a bad review. i wouldn't buy everything you see or not buy it because you got bad reviews. it's one piece i sort of describe as, it's one quiver -- one arrow in your quiver of reasons to and not to buy a book. >> right. well, and clearly, it has a lot of power. i mean, when i go on yelp and see, you know, a lot of or stars, i filter that differently because that's not the business i'm in. ..
with the increasing importance of -- that's okay, sweetie, of rider self-promotion how is important is it to align yourself with a large well-known publishing house or a specialty, you know, if you are riding held to buy children's books or a dry children's books should you be looking to do that. i am wondering importance of that. >> well, i mean, the thing that large publisher can do for you
is get your book into bookstores and get out of the media and distributed everywhere that you wanted to be distributed. that does not necessarily mean that it will all smedley be more successful than the self published or small press book that an author knows how to do, if the author can do the same thing for him or herself, but, you know, you are starting, you have a running start. again, social media, the stigma no longer tests to sell publishing the way it had been back in the days of when it was called vanity press now it's more just entrepreneurial publishing, certainly i have seen cases of self published authors to have done very well. there are a lot of reasons to just be wanting to have the freedom to do what you want to
do and not be relied on the system. i actually think that a lot of authors to decide that they want to go the sell publishing grew don't realize how much is done at a major publishing house and how much that all cost. what i am encouraged by seeing now is something i have written a little bit about. a friend who is a publicist is calling cracked publishing which is basically small presses springing up around an author, but they have all the things that i necessary to make a book a really good book, adding, copyediting, cover design, marketing, publicity, all that sort of thing. it's being done on a microbrew, the level. the term kraft publishing. i think that that has a lot of potential to get away from the vanity of publishing and to be
more about people. a think if we have written, such pros that it deserves to be up there with no filter, you probably are really meant to be an author. we want to have other people's eyes on my work desperately because we know that there are things that can be changed and made better. i think that is a really important message to get across, >> any other questions of there? any of you on the panel have any sort of additional stock, last word? i mean, are you recommending your jobs? publicist, online media guru, reviewer. >> absolutely. my daughter just graduated from college. what is she going to do? go in turn for a literary agent in d.c. someone on line said, you really are a bad mother. you are getting her into publishing. i thought, well, you know,
cannot help it. we love what we do. chris said earlier when i interviewed him, you don't go into publishing to get rich. you go in it for love. that is why we are all here. >> i would say, feel free to volunteer if you are interested. i mean, it is a lot of fun and something i do because i love it. the independent as always looking for volunteers. there are signs all over the internet to what people will write and help promote and all that. if you're ever interested and just want to do it on the side, it is something that you should think about. >> very, very well said. we have established of the death of a book is greatly exaggerated fears. want to thank the panelists. we have learned a lot from them about how they work and connect readers. i also wanted thank you because we learned from u.s. well. around of applause for everyone. [applause] >> thank you. >> thank you.
8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. >> medical doctors specializing in patient safety called for a patient's bill of rights that recent hearing on medical errors lose the senate subcommittee on health and beijing examined preventable medical errors that could lead to death or serious financial problems to correct medical mistakes. this program is just over 90 minutes. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible cover stations]